Tanah Lot is a sacred temple on the south coast of Bali around 20 kilometres from Denpasar. It is a place that has been drawing pilgrims for centuries and now has also caught the eye of the traveller with its stunning scenery.
Tanah lot translates to “land in the sea” in Balinese and has been a very popular tourist destination on Bali for many years. The tiny island was formed by the gradual erosion of the ocean tide over thousands of years. The temple of Tanah Lot is said to have been founded by the 16th-century priest Nirartha, one of the last priests to come to Bali from Java. It is said that while he was walking the coast he came across this island and decided to rest and local fishermen brought him food and gifts. He spent the night there and the next day told the fishermen to build a shrine on the rock as he deemed it a sacred place of worship to the Balinese sea gods.
The temple at Tanah Lot is not accesible to visitors although many people flock to this sacred site to witness the glorious sun sets over the Indian Ocean. You can easily just sit back amongst the rice paddies and wait for the sun to go down.
Getting there is rather easy as it is only a 30 minute drive from the heart of Kuta or Legian. The drive itself is pleasing as you soon realise that you are surrounded by the infamous rice paddies on all sides and the Balinese countryside has to offer. Once you arrive at Tanah Lot there are numerous stalls selling souvenirs and food and drink. The best time to visit would be just before sunset. It is a good idea to check the times of the tide as the small island can be surrounded by water.
When the tide is in, Pura Tanah Lot looks like a ship floating on the sea, with the artistic patterns of the rock carved by the waves. Those who come to pray generally prefer to use the space on the beach, rather than crossing over. But occasionally, a few try to make it to the rock, relying on a rope tied to the coral. They are usually supervised and helped in this by the traditional security personnel. Treading cautiously through the water and watching out for incoming waves, these pilgrims seem delighted with their brief yet sometimes hazardous crossing.
If you do decide to visit Tanah Lot you can be sure that you will have taken a very special memory back home with you.
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